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224       HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

and simplicity by living among peasants. After a year or two he
brought the boy back to his own house. Here everything was
different. The Italian influence was predominant, and young
Michel grew up in an atmosphere of culture, where he was
permitted to take his first steps in learning without the least
compulsion or effort. The father did not know much about
education himself, but he was dissatisfied with the ordinary
methods, and he consulted various people of his acquaintance on
the matter. " He was told that the length of time we spend in
learning their languages is the sole reason for our never attaining
the grandeur of soul and the knowledge which the ancient Greeks
and the Romans had." Acting on this view he formed the plan
of entrusting his son to a good German scholar who was ignorant
of French but well versed in Latin, and of compelling the whole
household to speak nothing but Latin in his presence. The
experiment was a great success. At the age of six, the boy knew
no French but could speak Latin fluently, and this, says Montaigne,
" without method, without book, without grammar or rule, with-
out rod, without tears.'* But the father became doubtful of the
wisdom of the plan, and sent him at this age to be educated in the
ordinary fashion at the college of Guyenne in Bourdeaux, and there
he remained till he was thirteen. In spite of admirable teachers,
including George Buchanan "the great Scottish poet," he made
little progress in his studies, and soon lost the power of speaking
Latin* His early training had made him disinclined to learn any-
thing he did not want to learn, and he would probably have left
school with a dislike for books and studies had he not formed a
passionate fondness for Ovid's Metamorphoses. The tutor who
was directing his work took advantage of this fondness, and from
Ovid led him on to the reading of Lucian and Virgil. From these
he passed gradually to all the other writers—" historians, poets,
philosophers, ancient or modern, Italian, Spanish or French "—
and so acquired a knowledge of the enormous mass of literature
on which he constantly drew in writing his Essays. It was an
unusual education, and Montaigne frankly admits the effects it
had on himself. " Having been educated in childhood in a free
and easy fashion and never having suffered any forced subjection
at that time, I have consequently become incapable of serious
effort and discipline. I have a free soul that is master of itself
and is accustomed to keep itself to its task." Whatever its defects,